It is fascinating that “singing” has been used as an alert or warning phrase––“Not over until the fat lady sings” or “canary in a coal mine.” When customers “sing” it can be a cry for communication. Great service providers encourage customer “singing.” The song is not just the sounds of important feedback and intelligence; it is the start of the sense of community customers have watched gradually removed from the service covenant. And, the hunger for community is innate for 99.9 percent of customers.
As customers, we all enjoy the convenience of online engagement. “Singing” (via face-to-face, ear-to-ear, or word of mouse) is what makes us social animals. Even more important, extroverts who “talk to think” outnumber introverts who “think to talk” four to one. “Singing” means more than simply fostering good communication. It means creating and valuing a village or community. When service providers and customers unite in the village of commerce it can nurture a relationship that helps customers feel like a partner, not an isolated consumer.
Amanda Kooser reported in USA Today Small Business blog a powerful story about New Mexico Tea Company owner David Edwards. David was staring at bankruptcy and needed a six month-loan to get him from slow summer sales to a profitable December. An SBA loan would take months, the bank turned him down, and he needed cash fast. He turned to his customers for help. He created a clever gift card that could be purchased on PayPal––a $50 gift card purchased in the summer but held until December could be used to buy $55 worth of tea. A $100 gift card bought $115 worth. The micro-lending concept was a huge success. And the big payoff was that after David’s partnering gesture his loyal customers felt even more loyal than before.